A Return to Gospel Love over Sentiment

This was originally posted at another blog I contribute to called UMC Holiness. While it is certainly true that we are to love our neighbor (even our enemy), gospel love has a form and content which often gets ignored in favor of sentimentality.

umc holiness

Three hundred dollars was all I needed to keep from becoming homeless.   I was about to be evicted from the apartment I rented after my wife filed for divorce over my ongoing sexual sin.  I was sure that my parents, who had the money,  would float me a loan till I got back on my feet, if for no other reason than to ensure their grand-kids would have a place to sleep on their weekend visits.

But they said NO.

I was stunned and angry.  I couldn’t believe they would deny their son something so easy for them to give and so necessary for me to have.  Within a week I was evicted. I ceased all communication with my parents.  If they had loved me, they would have helped me when I was most in need.

What I could and would not see at the time was that this…

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2 thoughts on “A Return to Gospel Love over Sentiment”

  1. Chad, the disagreement in the UMC is not over the gravity of sin; it is over what we understand to be sin. I grieve the sin that I see being committed against our LGBT brothers and sisters. If I did not take sin seriously, I wouldn’t say anything because it’s certainly not in my self-interest to be talking about it when I’m going up for ordination. I am trying to be faithful to what I believe God has revealed to me and continues to reveal. Whether you believe this or not, I continue to engage you because I’m trying to hear what God might be saying through you. Nonetheless, I do think it’s important to name that there is a categorical difference between the public posturing of taking ideological stances on issues in the abstract and how you engage in loving discipline in personal relationships in response to specific sins particularly when you’re a parent. I’m not sure we should talk about gospel love happening outside of long-standing personal relationships with real people. Also, try to understand the people who disagree with you rather than dismissing them with easy caricatures like sentimentality. Is Paul being a sentimentalist in his extended discourse on agape love in 1 Corinthians 13? If not, where in that passage do you find the characteristics of gospel love you have described here?

    1. Thanks, Morgan. I agree that this is far from loving in the abstract, but with real people in long-standing relationships. It’s one of the reasons I decided in the end to include the personal story of my parent’s love towards me. Love has teeth.

      Regarding 1 Cor 13 I’d say it is a far cry from endorsing sentimentality. Vs. 6, about love, “it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Has echoes of his words in Rom. 1:32 “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

      We must remember that the same guy who wrote 1 Cor. 13 also wrote 1 Cor. 5. Paul is far from being a sentamentalist, wouldn’t you agree?

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